Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Must Have MAC Brushes

I have been using MAC makeup brushes for at least 12 years. The very first brush I purchased was a 150 powder brush. I bought it along with my beloved Studio Fix Foundation. I came to realize that I had no idea how to use brushes properly nor did I know how much I would come to love MAC brushes once I learned.

When I used the 150 brush to apply the Studio Fix, I hated the result. The powder looked uneven and blotchy. I initially blamed the quality of the foundation and ended up returning it after a few days of use. Years later, I found out that it is not in the makeup, rather, it is in the artist and her tools!

Tools really do make all the difference between good and bad makeup application. Using the wrong brush can ruin your look. Take it from me, I know!

Over the years, I have improved my makeup skills and overall cosmetic knowledge. Not only am I well versed in shadows, lipsticks, foundations, brow pencils eye liners, and mascaras, I have fully embraced my obsession with MAC brushes! This is coming from the girl who actually used the little sponge applicators in her shadow quad!

So, here is a list of must-have MAC brushes! After countless hours of experimentation, I have determined there are "cannot-live-without-them" brushes and "I-can-do-without-them" brushes. However, I am only going to focus on the essentials.

I have categorized the following in the order of Eye, Face, and Lip.

Eye Brushes:

213 - This is called a "small fluff brush" by MAC and it used for applying shadow to the lids. It has a round, slightly tapered shape and it feels soft. Its small shape makes it very controllable.

239 - This brush has white fibers and the overall shape is a bit round. The texture is firmer than the 213. It is used to blend shadow and it is wonderful for the crease.

217 - This is deemed a "blending brush" by MAC. It is made with light-colored fibers and has a firm yet soft fluffy feel to it. I use this for applying light, highlight colors to my brow bone. It is also great for blending shadows to make them look seamless and smooth.

222 or 224- These are tapered brushes with black fibers. They are good for blending but I think they are a must for applying highlight powder to the inner corners of the eyes and highlight shimmer on the top of the nose.

208 - This is a small brow brush with a strong angle. The fibers are light blond with some straw shades blended in. This brush is firm but also has a pliable feel to it. It is wonderful for filling in brows with colored brow wax and brow powder. It is also great for creating 50s cat eye liner using liquid liner.

252- This is a tawny-blond colored brush. It has a rounded square shape and feels firm yet gentle on the eyes. It is ideal for applying Paint Pots, cream to powder shadow, and MAC Paints and MAC Cream Color Bases.

Face Brushes:

109 - This is a small version of the kabuki brush. It has black fibers and a slightly flared, dome shape. This brush is great for applying MAC Studio Fix foundation, mineral foundation, and even blush.

116 - This is a small to medium sized brush with black fibers. The shape is flared and rounded on the ends. This is THE blush brush. Period. I have never used a better one than this. Its shape allows for precise application and the fact it is tapered just makes blush look incredible.

168 - This is an angled fluff brush made from white fibres. It is super soft! I use it to apply contour under my cheek bones. I make a fish face and use this brush with MAC shadow in Kid inside the hollows of the cheeks to create the illusion of better sculpted cheeks.

188 - This is a very cool duo tone brush. It is made with black and white fibers and it feels velvety soft. It creates an airbrush quality when using blush or highlighter. I use this with highlight powder on my forehead, tops of my cheeks, and center of my chin. If my blush looks too heavy, I spritz the 188 with MAC's Fix+ Spray and twirl the brush to gently diffuse the blush and help tone it down.

195 - This is a blondish toned, firm brush with tapered sides and a point. This brush is the ultimate concealer brush! It is firmer than the 194 and this allows for more precise application of cream concealer on blemishes.

150 - My first MAC purchase. This black fibred brush is the largest one I own. It is fluffy yet not too fluffy. This is the best brush to applying setting powder to finish makeup and it is great for applying bronzer and/or shimmer to collarbones.


MAC had a 311 lip liner brush at one point but it was discontinued. It was a small liner brush that came to a point. I still have mine and it is good for applying MAC's Lipmix. I think Japonesque (available at Ulta) makes one similar to this. This is good brush for applying lipstick as a liner but if you prefer liner, then you may not need this brush.

Cleaning Brushes:

When it comes to brush cleansers, I tend not to waste my money. I use baby shampoo. For those brushes that need extra cleaning and/or have liquid liner on them, you can use an oil-based makeup remover like MAC's Cleanse Off Oil or Lancome's BiFacil. When using oil-based removers, first apply them, rinse, and then use the brush cleanser of your choice.

When washing brushes, use warm water. Do not use hot or cold. Pour cleanser into the palm of your hand and gently swirl the brushes. Do not smash or pull on the fibres! You can cause damage and lost fibres. Gently coax the shampoo through the brush in the direction of the fibers and rinse in warm water until the cleanser is gone and the fibres feel soap-free.

As you dry, use a hand towel to dry the handles but squeeze the water out of the brushes in the same direction the fibres go. Reshape the brush gently with your fingertips. Do not towel dry the brush fibers. Again, you can cause damage.

Lay out a clean, dry towel on your sink counter and lay each brush on the towel, allowing space between each one. Do not dry your brushes with the brush head sticking up, ie in a cup or container. This will cause water to collect in the brush where it connects to the handle and over time, the brush head could pop off because the metal and wood will have deteriorated. I learned about brush care and maintenance during the many years as an art student. I figure whether a brush is for makeup or for a canvas, both require the same tender loving care.

If you all have any other must-have ideas regarding brush essentials, let me know! I would love to hear from you!

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